" That which is important for me... are the simple eternal truths: the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Holy Eucharist "
Bl Kaspar Stanggassinger CSsR
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Fr Peter Morris' reflections on Grenada 2018

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Back in July Fr. Peter was one of the many who took part in the Redemptorist Youth Congress in Grenada Spain. Here he looks back on the event and shares his experiences and thoughts.

Feel it now, let’s sing it louder

Heed the call: “¡Ven a Granada!” (“Come to Granada”)

And you’ll see,

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 that somethin’s changin’

Deep down within your heart.

Proclaim Christ the Redeemer

It’s our mission

Raise your voices…

 

And all together say, “Amen.” ¡Oh, oh, oh!

And all together say, “Amen.”

Give thanks to the Lord

For his love never ends.

And all together say, “Amen.”

 

I’m writing this article with this anthem still ringing in my ears – a catchy tune that accompanied us through the days of mission in the beautiful, historically lush city of Spain.  The mission with the young people of Europe (and beyond) was a most memorable experience. 

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Upon our arrival, we had been given a welcome pack – almost all merchandise complete with the logo of the mission.  It rather thoughtfully included a fan, a hat, sunscreen, a map of the city, a pen, and a sporty draw-string bag.  Our comparatively small group of six settled into our simple yet surprisingly good accommodation with a mixture of palpable expectation and heat exhaustion(!)

 

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Watching over 700 people gradually gather for Mass in the chapel of the local Jeronimite nuns reminded me of the powerful impression that such Redemptorist Youth events makes on oneself – the Church is bigger than one’s own humble ecclesiastical context and it is thriving.

The Redemptorist priests & brothers began to descend upon the sacristy, habits and albs donned amongst joyful reunions and kindly introductions.  At one stage our own Superior General entered, slowly making his way around the room in his characteristic down-to-earth and upbeat nature.  It is not surprising to see the affection with which Fr. Mike Brehl was greeted.  He accompanied his warm greeting to me with a little friendly banter.  His presence at the Mission was to be short-lived but, as always, an honour and a delight.

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The Mass began with a typically Spanish hymn – simple, beautiful and powerful.  Led by a choir conducted by the talented Padré Damien (famous for appearing on the Spanish version of “The Voice”) and accompanied by strings and wind instruments the liturgies were always uplifting and prayerful.

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Liturgies, homilies and excursions could be followed from the well-produced handbook that also came in our welcome pack.  One confrère commented that it contained at least two months’ worth of good catechesis for youth!

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On the first night the festival atmosphere was electric – music, dance and drama set the scene for what would become a joyful expression and celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Granada.  I remember spotting one of the nuns watching the show from her window onto the cloister where the stage was set up and I could imagine her wondering why on earth they had agreed to it!

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We were able to browse stalls assembled by each unit, sharing something of the apostolate from each country.  Sisters from Ukraine were elegantly braiding young ladies’ hair next to us and on other occasions, the Ukrainian girls were demonstrating some traditional dances.  At our stall, I would invite young people who stopped by to share a song from their country in exchange for a Scottish one. This would draw delighted little crowds.

We witnessed the first performance of “Alphonsus: The Musical” – a production that had been brought together in only three days by a group from the four corners of Spain.  It was highly entertaining, particularly the antics of the narrator, “the Harlequin,” but also very moving.  Following that, we visited the Alhambra – an absolute gem of Granada.

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A highlight for me was the distinctively Spanish procession of the crucifix and the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour through the streets from our Redemptorist church to the Cathedral.  It came complete with a rousing marching band.

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One day we had a trip to a waterpark, which provided a welcome break in the schedule to relax and have a good bit of fun.  The thrill-seekers among us enjoyed the various slides and others took the opportunity for a quiet rest at the poolside and the odd dip in the pool.

The closing Mass was a touching finale for the week, where, not only did the Redemptorists publicly renew their vows, but also a brave young couple from the Polish contingent gave themselves to each other in marriage.

The theme of the mission, “All Together,” encapsulates the essence of our experience there: a coming together of cultures, languages, musical heritage and dance.  Above all, there was a profound sense of our unity in faith, joyfully expressed through prayer, catechesis and community.

It was announced that the next European Redemptorist Youth Mission would be hosted by the Bratislava-Prague Province in three years’ time.  I personally look forward to it and hope that our Province will be prepared to bring a more sizeable group to this important part of the Redemptorist Youth experience in Europe.

Fr. Peter Morris C.Ss.R